By Colleen Pierre, R.D.
Fact: I'm not a big sweets eater. But when there's a family birthday cake, I don't want my sad, deprived face spoiling the fun. So I trade my potato for a small dessert because the carbs in sugar get processed just like the carbs in potatoes. True, potatoes and other vegetables, fruits, and dairy products deliver vitamins, minerals, and energy that protect my health, so those are mostly what I eat. But to help me avoid feeling deprived, I allow myself the occasional sweet treat.
Many so-called sugar-free foods (such as cookies or candy) often aren't free because they have carbs from flour or milk. Some are made with sugar alcohols such as maltitol or sorbitol. "People with diabetes absorb about half the carbohydrate listed as sugar alcohol," says Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., CDE, a diabetes nutrition educator from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. So if the label says 10 grams of sugar alcohol, count it as 5 grams of carbs. And be aware that large amounts can cause diarrhea or gas.